By Adil Daudi, Esq.
All too often I am approached by and asked during my estate planning seminars, â€œDo I need an estate plan now?â€ â€œWhen is the best time to get an estate plan?â€ â€œIsnâ€™t estate planning for older people?â€ Unfortunately, because everyoneâ€™s family and financial situation is different, it is always difficult for me to give a definite answer.
Nevertheless, I do mention that the best way to know when to start an estate plan is to first look at your own personal family situation, and if you fall under any one of the following categories then it is imperative to begin an estate plan, regardless of your financial situation.
1. Minor Children: If you have minor children and no estate plan, then begin working on one immediately. There are two primary reasons for doing so: (a) you want to appoint the right people to look after your minor children in the event you and your spouse pass away unexpectedly; (b) you want to make sure their finances are monitored and tracked by someone you trust. Without having this in place, you are leaving it in the hands of the judge to decide and make these important decisions for you.
2. Disabled Child/Beneficiary: If you have a disabled child, or intend to leave an inheritance for a disabled beneficiary who is receiving governmental benefits, then creating an estate plan will protect that child and/or beneficiary from losing their governmental assistance, along with ensuring they receive their inheritance.
3. Second Marriage/Blended Family: No category requires an estate plan more than those in a second marriage and a blended family. Improper planning under this category can lead to catastrophic results. Too often, parents fail to properly title their assets, thus leaving it all to their children and completely neglecting and overlooking the spouse; whose sole matter of recourse would be the court system.
4. Spouse Recently Died: Normally, the surviving spouse inherits everything through being joint on the deceased spouseâ€™s account, or being listed the beneficiary of the investment account and/or insurance policy. However, the planning should very well begin for you, the surviving spouse, to discuss your options of transferring your assets to your heirs upon your death.
Financial and age requirements are never the decisive factors of starting an estate plan. It is clear that many other factors exist that could make it prudent on you to sit down and seriously consider your estate plan. Doing so, will ensure you are taking care of your loved ones. I always express to clients that planning for the unexpected is sometimes just as important, if not more, than planning for the expected.
Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll &Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Shariah Estate Planning, Health Care Law, Business Litigation, and Corporate Formations. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at firstname.lastname@example.org or (517) 381-2663.